Retreat From a Women’s Retreat- The Christian Introvert
Did you know that God has a plan for everyone, even the Christian introvert? Wendy encourages us to focus on God, and remember that He has a plan for each individual.
Retreat From A Women’s Retreat
I knew, as a semi-introvert, it was going to be a challenge for me to stay at a recent women’s retreat for the entire day. In fact, ahead of time, I asked if I could sit beside a friend who was also going. She happens to be beautifully outgoing. This meant I’d be on my own during the breaks. And to be honest, except for my aching tailbone, sitting in the sanctuary was the easy part of the event.
It’s been a long time since I’ve hung out in a conference-like atmosphere. In fact, I avoid the coffee times and mingle with muffin gatherings in our church. For me, hanging out with a room full of people in an unstructured atmosphere is akin to going for a yearly checkup—uncomfortable. Actually, I’m lying. It’s unbearable. There, that feels better to tell the whole truth.
So I left at lunchtime and didn’t return. I left because I couldn’t fathom walking into the snack area again where everyone was lined up and chattering away like it was an everyday event for them. I couldn’t stand to take the risk of being the one person no one wanted to talk to, or hangout with. And I didn’t want to start bawling like a baby in front of everyone when I couldn’t figure out how to engage in conversation with someone, or muster up the courage to carry on after having received rejection when I did make the effort.
So I left.
Learning About Different Personalites
I left because I’m insecure in group settings. Only recently I realized I’m largely an introvert. I’m drained by crowds and filled by solitude. Before I clued into my personality limitations, I just thought I was broken. And I wondered how I was ever going to attend a writer’s conference if I can’t even hang out with my own church acquaintances. I’d rather teach a Bible lesson to a class of children than socialize with a group of adults.
The day after the women’s retreat—after my retreat—I woke up early to spend time polishing up the lesson plans for my turn at teaching children’s church, because I really do believe the Bible. But the question is, do I believe God can help me with my social anxiety?
I struggled with feelings of failure as I opened the Scriptures. Who was I to teach anyone anything? I’m a coward, I’m a failure. I might as well shut down my volunteer work, shut down my social media sites, and shut myself away.
God Encouraged Elijah
I sipped on my coffee and looked over the main points of the bible story as I continued struggling with self-condemnation. The story of Elijah running away in terror from Jezebel echoed my own desertion of the ladies retreat—except that I’d run away from a group of nice women who had no intentions of killing me.
And then I noticed something in the teacher’s guide. One of the main points was written on a separate poster that I was to hang on the class bulletin board. And these were the words:
God encouraged Elijah.
I hadn’t noticed the poster when I worked on the lesson earlier in the week. But I noticed it this time.
God encouraged Elijah. Hmm… so even though Elijah had experienced great victory in God earlier, and therefore should have known better, God didn’t leave him in a state of failure when Elijah fled in fear. God sent angels to comfort and encourage him. God didn’t condemn Elijah.
He Delivers Us From Our Fears
And so I got to thinking that God doesn’t condemn me either. He doesn’t want me to close up shop and run away. He has compassion on this made-of-dust me.
Wow, God used a children’s curriculum to comfort me. To restore me.
But that makes sense; we’re supposed to be as little children before our Father.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
He delivered me from all my fears.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
God Has A Plan For Everyone, Even The Christian Introvert!
I need to be the authentic me. If I force myself to act outgoing when I’m not, I simply exhaust myself, and I probably appear out-of-sorts wearing an extrovert hat anyways. I’ve been told I come into my element as a writer, as a teacher, and as a speaker. For some strange reason I do better alone on a stage than mingling (not) in a crowd.
God has plans for each one of us, and they are as individual as we are. I need to follow His Spirit and not the preconceived ideas I have for how I think a godly woman should behave. Fish don’t have feathers, birds don’t have fins. One is not better than the other; they’re different.
Like Elijah needed to do, I need to focus on where God wants me, and not on my feelings, fears, or fellow Christians. His ways are not going to look like my neighbor’s. He’s got my back, my front, and my future in His Hands.
I’d like to share a short poem of mine with you:
When fear of rejection
Weighs down my weary soul
I long for God’s unfailing Love
To shine and make me whole
When fear of others
Takes over my thoughts
I need to focus back on God
To provide what I have not.
So, dear readers, remember to keep your eyes on the One whose opinion of you matters most. Be compassionate with your own personality, and do the work God has placed before you. He’ll comfort you and enable you to complete it well.
Wendy L. Macdonald
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HopeStreamRadio has been a huge blessing to me. Since I moved away from an area that had a lot of good Christian radio I have been looking for a station that I could listen to and be encouraged by. HSR has filled that void and it has also been exciting to be a part of the team that contributes to HSR.Mike from MS